DUI 101: DUI Law in the United States

Every state has a DUI law that prohibits operating a vehicle with blood alcohol content (BAC) at or above .08%, but specific DUI law varies by state. For instance, certain states can seize your car and charge you with a felony if you repeatedly break the DUI law.

Protect yourself by getting to know your state's DUI laws. Total DUI's state resource page will give you a quick, state-by-state summary.

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Police Monitoring of the DUI Law

Police look for certain indicators to determine whether a driver is under the influence. If there is any suspicion, they can pull the car over and administer a DUI investigation. Some cues of a drunk driver consist of:

  • weaving or swerving;
  • driving on the wrong side of the street;
  • turning with a wide radius;
  • stopping too short/far from limit lines; and/or
  • accelerating/decelerating randomly.

Police will also observe the driver to determine if he's breaking the DUI law. They often pull a driver over if they notice him tightly gripping his steering wheel or putting his face too close to the windshield in an effort to better concentrate. In general, police can pull a driver over if there's any indication that something might be out of the ordinary.

History of the DUI Law

The first DUI law was created in 1910 and prohibited people from driving when they were intoxicated; however, problems arose because it didn't define what it meant to be "intoxicated." It took a few decades for states to characterize being intoxicated as having a BAC of .15%-nearly twice today's legal limit.

In the 70s, DUI law became much stricter due to pressure from groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The legal BAC limit was first trimmed to .10%, and eventually lowered to .08%. A zero tolerance DUI law was also added, which lowered the limit to .02% or less (depending on the state) for drivers under 21.

For more information on DUI law and charges, connect with a DUI attorney by filling out our free online DUI case evaluation or by calling (877) 349-1311 to schedule a free consultation.

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